Mahapatra knows this well. For 28 years, he has been doing what would brand him as a lunatic to most of his tribe: working for 14 hours non-stop per day, living in a small government apartment and earning a paltry government salary. All this when there is a permanent queue of India's best corporate hospitals and international medical institutes offering 20 to 100 times the money he carries home at month-end. But Mahapatra does not feel the pinch.
"I may not drive a luxury car, I may not afford to eat at a five-star but I am a very satisfied man. If we fall to monetary temptations, there will be no one to cater to suffering humanity," he says. His patients volunteer to tell you stories about how this 52-year-old doctor sprints several floors to locate a misplaced drug. How he doesn't think twice about paying from his own pocket if the patient can't.